ISE® Success Stories

Carson Sweet
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, CloudPassage

When you are starting a company and putting a product or service into the market, one of the most difficult things to do is make your market message razor sharp. Mark Twain is commonly attributed to the saying: “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” That is often how it feels when trying to create that message for your new solution—there’s a lot of content that all seems important, and there are a million things prioritized over paring it down to the content that really matters. But if you don’t, you will never break through the market noise.

When we first looked at ISE® Lions’ Den, we thought it might be a simple lightning talk, a type of event that I have participated in many times previously. What we learned is that the ISE® Lions’ Den is so much more than that.

It wasn’t just a lightning round in front of a group of random investors or conference attendees. The judges of the event—the ISE® Lions—are your buyers. And they’re not just any buyers, they’re the Chief Security Officers of some of the largest enterprises in the world. The ISE® Lions’ Den gives you ten minutes with some of the highest-level buyers and influencers in your target market.

Not counting Q&A time, you have exactly five minutes in front of this unique audience to sell them on the value proposition of your new solution. Walking your pitch through this kind of fire is a unique and invaluable experience in tempering and sharpening your message. We were blown away during our first trip to the ISE® Lions’ Den in 2014—the very first ISE® Lions’ Den—and only after experiencing it did we realize the opportunity that it presented. When we re-entered the competition the following year, we came prepared for the experience with our message honed, every word carefully prepared and precise. And we won.

And not only did we win at the ISE® Lions’ Den, but that win carried forward even more meaningful benefits, as that honed message made it into our sales and marketing functions and boosted pipeline and revenue.

You can practice your message in front of friends, or at meetups, or at conferences—but having to nail that pitch while standing directly in front of your most critical buyers? There is no substitute, and no other event offers this experience like the ISE® Lions’ Den. In my opinion as a serial cybersecurity entrepreneur, every security startup—when they’re ready—should seriously consider competing as a Gazelle in the ISE® Lions’ Den. It is a unique and exhilarating opportunity that can be the catalyst to take your messaging to an entirely new level.